LINCOLN BOULEVARD — Big Blue Bus leadership announced over the weekend that it would delay plans to create a bus-only lane on Lincoln Boulevard during peak hours, saying that the benefits would not outweigh community concerns around removing a traffic lane over so short a distance.
Officials first advanced the proposal, which involved creating a bus-only lane between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m., and 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays, in 2005. It was expected to cut eight minutes off of the average bus trip while forcing car drivers to make do with fewer lanes.
At the time, there was widespread community support for the project, according to a report. That evaporated by the summer of 2012 when the California Department of Transportation relinquished control of the portion of Lincoln Boulevard within Santa Monica’s borders to City Hall.
During two community meetings, business owners registered their concerns with the loss of parking, access to the fronts of their businesses and traffic impacts of removing a lane of travel during the busiest times of the day.
It also appeared that the benefits of the project had been overstated.
A revisitation of traffic data showed “huge inconsistencies” in calculations used to project the eight-minute time savings used to sell the original plan, such as ignoring the time it took to get passengers on and off the bus.
A second look at the data showed the actual time savings of a bus-only lane would be two to three minutes.
The project took a further dive when the Los Angeles Department of Transportation left Lincoln Boulevard off of a list of transit corridors flagged for special consideration for rapid bus routes.
City Hall will push for the lane when the county decides to take a further look at Lincoln Boulevard, potentially expanding the concept outside of the city’s borders and to the Los Angeles International Airport, potentially allowing for more travel time to be saved.